Imagine yourself in a country where a wall separates you from your loving wife and family. In order to reach them, you have to compete and win a government-run reality TV show. That’s Ministry of Broadcast in a nutshell, an Orwellian take on modern pop culture, politics, and human behavior.
You play as a ginger-haired contestant on The Wall Show, as it is called. Early in the game, you get escorted to what basically looks like a walled-off concentration camp with armed guards blocking any chance of escape. The reality show gives you the chance to achieve freedom; first, you have to overcome a series of twisted challenges.
The show splits contestants into two different roles: civilians and police/guards. The dark overtones are pretty apparent from the start as you enter the camp and quickly come into contact with the thuggish guards, who assume their role a bit too well. There’s also the watchful eye of the police state, a constant surveillance presence with cameras everywhere.
The game plays a bit off of two famous psychological experiments: the Milgram experiment and the Stanford prison experiment. The Milgram experiment tested the obedience of everyday individuals to authority figures. The research helped to explain Nazi and other war atrocities, which average people carried out.
Meanwhile, the Stanford prison experiment tested how individuals adapt to different roles and the perceived power that may or may not come with them. Seeing as The Wall Show is a role-based reality TV show where the guards exhibit sadistic and authoritarian tendencies, the game certainly seems to play off of the prison experiment.
Ministry of Broadcast is something of a dark comedy and often makes fun of the ridiculousness of its premise. But it’s also a serious social commentary on the current state of the world and human nature more generally. How far are you willing to go to reunite with your family?
While the game is narrative-driven, you will spend most of your time admiring the pixel art, scaling the various platforms, and solving puzzles. Ministry of Broadcast draws clear inspiration from classic platformers like the original Prince of Persia, Flashback, and Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee.
There are going to be younger gamers who do not get the appeal. That’s fine. It’s not for everyone. The mechanics here may feel dated and will definitely take some getting used to, but the game feels like a genuine throwback in the best sense of the word.
This is a fairly challenging game. It requires patience, good timing, experimentation, and occasionally outside-of-the-box thinking. This is not a platformer that you can expect to just coast right through with minimal effort. Nor is it a game where trigger-happy players will find much satisfaction.
Also, be warned: you are going to die a lot. The game is unforgiving when it comes to missed jumps, and encounters with the game’s guards are often deadly. Thankfully, the game does a decent job with checkpoints, although there are a few spots where I wish the developers had included more just to save players some time.
Overall, Ministry of Broadcast is a fascinating intersection of politics and psychology. It’s also an interesting mix of several video game genres: narrative-driven adventure, classic platformer, and puzzle game.
Game Freaks 365 received a free review copy.